Even though this question is essential, most of us do not really wonder about it… or do it too late : how to choose the best travel team to go on a road trip ? Some of you will make the choice of leaving solo, in that case this reflection will probably be pointless to you (well, actually some elements will surely help you if you join some people and/or a group for small parts of your trip for example). But if you decide to go on a road trip with some friends, you will then have to decide with whom you want to go… And that can be a little bit more difficult than it seems ! No worries, the goal is to enjoy the trip and that everyone find his/her groove – so here are a few tips 🙂
» Let’s hit the road !
Each one of us has his/her opinion on that question, and I totally respect everyone’s thoughts, but it is true that for now not only have I never really tried traveling solo, but I also prefer being accompanied during my wanderings. And I of course mean in good company. I was already mentioning this in my reasons to leave on a road trip (7 listed here, but about a million in real life !) : for me, sharing all the memories of such a trip with my travel buddies is priceless – whether we are talking about amazing experiences or total disasters. But, but, but… (can you always sense the but coming ?) This choice is crucial for an incalculable number of reasons. The goal is not to get excuses not to go (FAR FROM IT !) but to come to a wise choice so that everything goes smoothly.
We tend to believe that going away with our best friends is the best solution to succeed in our adventures… But going beyond just getting along well in everyday life, you absolutely need to be able to bear one another during those long weeks, especially if you end up choosing the van option, that leaves very small place to intimacy ! That is why you need to be motivated by the same things along the journey. I have had a few discussions with some friends (and read an article on that topic as well, I need to find it again…) for whom the trip was explained with a half-hearted tone because each one had different expectations. Living together, you need to make some concessions, but the end goal is still that each one can find his/her groove, without having to say goodbye to all his/her desires !
THOUGHT#1 : how many people do you want to travel with ?
You decide not go alone, that is great… But how many of you will be traveling ? Several starts with 2, right ? Traveling by 2, you will definitely have quite some flexibility, but you obviously need to choose someone you really get along with to put up with him/her (it goes both ways) all along the road trip. On a more practical side, you need to think about the fact that you will only divide the expenses by two (you can mark that very relevant thought, with an unbreakable logic). If you want to go with your boy/girlfriend (or however you guys call yourself of course haha), the road trip is a good way to discover the best and worse in your other half ! From that stand point, it is a really nice experience to share, it creates really strong bonds – but you only need to be sure to be ready for that (or willing to test your limits) haha
From my own experience, I really advise you to go for a 3- or 4-person (even 5) team ! I think it is the right size for everything to go smoothly. You will definitely loose even more intimacy (but if this is what you are looking for, maybe the campervan experience is not made for you; think about other options here) but the fact of being more of you allows you to get closer from a person or another depending of the day, your mood, the others one’s. It also allows you to have more personalities to exchange, talk, share. It gives you the right to be a bit less over the top and invested if you feel a bit weak one day, to let yourself get carried away by your friends. By the way, it is nice in the chores distribution as well, it simple goes faster ! And you will share all common expenses (especially the vehicle, the gas, etc.).
I think more than 5 is a bit much. Not only will it be more and more difficult to compromise so that everyone is happy, but it also becomes complicated on a practical note. One dumb example : if you are more than 5 passengers, you cannot fit into a normal vehicle ! (But do not hesitate to share your good experiences if you have some !)
THOUGHT #2 : what are your interests ?
Before booking your flights with your amazing team, I suggest you go around the table to see what each one of you expects from this trip – and from traveling in a more general manner. What where the good and bad experiences from your previous travels ? What are your favorite activities ? The objective is that each one explains how s/he sees things. Without making any judgment, some would rather discover with an (audio) guide, others will give priority to outdoor activities, some would want to rest or even visit many museums. There are so many ways to see things, and it is then that you can come to realize that your best friends not necessarily have the same vision as you. It is not a problem in your daily life, but for a road trip, you still need to have a common base !
As I was mentioning it earlier, traveling with a crew will take its share of compromises and concessions, but it should not be all about that. You will have troubles dragging around someone who hates walking on a mountain trail, as much as it will be difficult to take someone who despise being inside on a museum strike. The road trip is also the occasion to (re)test new experiences, it is totally true, but each of you has to find its way. And better be safe than sorry, right ? You better anticipate than be frustrated on site !
THOUGHT #3 : what is your budget ?
Aaaaaaah, here is THE big question ! I am the first one to become super shy when it comes to money talks, but it is an element that you really have to discuss beforehand ! It is not always the most comfortable topic to get into, but it is a key element, and you will absolutely need to be on the same wavelength. It seems logic that you cannot do the same things going from a simple or double budget. And you probably do not want to become the cheapstake, nor the crazy spender. Both ways, it is relatively hard to impose (or being imposed) a situation when it comes to money. If each on can treat him/herself with his/her own personal extras (a random example : skydiving), you still need to agree on some basic rules. Will follow many discussions about the transportation mode, the wanted comfort, the scheduled activities. Do not miss this mandatory conversation, risking to end up (once again, sorry) frustrated on site. It does not have to be a rough time but you can simply agree to a global budget.
THOUGHT #4 : what are the others’ flaws… and yours ?
Living together in a small space for weeks (even months sometimes), is not as easy as it seems. You need to leave with people you are getting along with, and with whom the personalities are going to click. Everyone has his/her (big) qualities and (small) flaws, but we usually stay focus on a more positive side, especially when you are only talking about getting dinner, going out for drinks or watching a movie. Living on top of each other can make the flaws stand out, those we had ignored or which were not that bothering till then. So think about each one’s quirks (and also yours, it comes without saying) to see if it could be a fit all along the trip. It can help you settle some bases and see where each one will have to work on him/herself a bit. It is then yours to decide what is a deal-breaker or not ! For example, can you come to terms with a choleric person, someone too shy, a friend who is not giving a hand when chores are concerned or a person who stays passive and takes no initiative in organizing everything ?
Keep in mind that you should not fill up the “CONS” column at full speed, but simply establish some bases (noun, used approximately 237 times in this article, sorry) before leaving. It works with all things pointed out here, but you simply need to come up with some foundations and think about your limits – yours but also when it comes to other people. Some obstacles can be overcome, it is the perfect occasion to become more flexible and tolerant in a certain way (this questioning was done in a more passive way for me at the time but was definitely a central element when I came back). It is your decision to see what is “going to make it” or not, to avoid any useless confrontations on site. Do not forget that no one is perfect (not them, not you, not me !) and you just have to have the will to take things upon yourself from time to time haha
» So, have you found them by now ?
Do not be scared, they are not hiding very far ! You do not need to agree on absolutely everything (the more you guys are the more impossible it gets) but you are the one able to find the right balance, or at least the one that suits you. Do not hesitate to rediscuss everything once you are there, to adapt to the current situation. The idea is to stress out that you should live with all cards in hand to make the most of your trip, and not regret the invested time, money and energy.
And if you have read my previous articles, you surely know how happy I am to have shared this amazing moments on the US West coast with Marijke, Karolin, Antwan and Eirik. Our choice was made without any real thinking to be honest, we simply were on the same page ! It shows that is not necessarily or only the ones you know for a long time that will make the best travel buddies, you sometimes need to look further. And we are still close today (they were a big part of my nostalgia chronicle when I celebrated my 12 months coming back) thanks to this beautiful experience. Your travel buddies are to be chosen carefully… with also with love, imagination, an open-mind, etc.
Do not hesitate to share on that topic by commenting here below !
Who are your favorite travel buddies ? What are their qualities ? (and their flaaaws !)
Have you already had a bad experience in that matter ? If yes, what did it teach you ?